Faith in Our Future
Note: this piece originally ran as an op-ed in The Fayetteville Observer on Friday, 14 February 2020.
I started my career as a school social worker, sitting with children and teenagers, talking with them, helping them take the steps that would set them up for long-term success. I saw the difference that one person can make in the lives of children and their families.
I also saw that some issues were too large for one person, one family to tackle. Everyone needs safe communities with opportunities to learn, build businesses, and thrive, which means change needs to happen at a higher level. I am running for the N.C. House in District 43 to put education first, to expand Medicaid, to fight poverty and to stand up for all in our community. We have challenges, but I have faith in our future
Putting education first.
We get a better future for our state by investing in our children. North Carolina once led the South in education. After 2010, Raleigh Republicans and their friends diverted money meant for children and public schools into risky schemes that haven’t worked. As a result, our community’s schools have remained stuck in the Great Recession, our best teachers take higher-paying jobs in other states, and our children suffer.
The recent Leandro report should be a call to arms — we have a duty to educate the whole child, including providing school nurses, counselors, bus drivers, social workers, janitors, cafeteria workers and teacher assistants who can make the difference. We have been falling too short for too long.
Politicians, putting their careers over working families, sabotaged the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act from the start. Nowhere did this hurt Cumberland County more than with the decision not to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would not cost us anything and would enable an additional 20,000 people in our county to get care, including many veterans and veteran family members ineligible for treatment by the VA.
Expansion would mean over 700 new jobs across our county and $140.6 million more money in our local economy — all at zero additional cost to us taxpayers. I will be a champion for the kind of expansion that has worked well across the country, an expansion that will enable 1 out of every 2 uninsured neighbors to get needed care.
Kids who were toddlers the last time the minimum wage went up are now in high school. While it is easy to think “minimum wage job” means something done by teens, raising the minimum wage just to $12/hour would help over one million North Carolinians, including 750,000 women. Not only have Raleigh Republicans and their friends refused to raise the wage, they passed two separate laws blocking local communities from raising the wage, a prohibition that finally ends this year.
Promoting jobs that work also goes beyond raising the wage. It includes curbing businesses classifying their workers as “independent contractors” to deny them benefits; it means promoting the spread of affordable, high-quality childcare, including voluntary pre-kindergarten; it involves investment in local, clean power generation; and it requires supporting protections and benefits for first responders, farm workers and working caregivers.
Standing up for all.
A key tenet of social work is respect. Relationships built on mutual respect are healthier relationships; communities built on respect are healthier communities. For too long, politicians have depended on divisiveness and “fear of the other” to get elected.
My commitment to you is that I will work for the whole district: for our jobs, for our health and safety, and for our schools and children. I have faith that if we come together as a community, we can build a better future, together. I see it every day.
Learn more about my campaign for Cumberland at www.kimberlyhardyfornc.com and vote “Kimberly Hardy” for NC House 43 in the Democratic primary. Thank you for your support!
Dr. Kimberly Hardy is a mom and a community advocate. A former school social worker, she is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Fayetteville State University. She is a candidate in the Democratic primary for N.C. House District 43.